A hole is created in our hearts when our parents divorce. Each hole is unique. Mine was losing the specialness I felt in my relationship with my dad. Though after their split I lived in a loving home with my mom and sisters, and my dad never lost contact with us, his physical departure (and other things life threw at me) reinforced my subconscious belief that my specialness was gone.
Years later I learned that, starting with the divorce announcement, I began a lifelong quest to regain that feeling of specialness. I used constructive ways like doing well at work and being respected in church and the community. But the craving to feel special often has a flip side of destructive attempts to get that specialness back. Doing things for the affirmation they brought, or trying to fill the void with “pleasure” only leaves the hole deeper. But the dual tragedy was spending so much energy on a futile cause, and not even knowing I was doing it.
What hole are you trying to fill?
A constant with parental divorce seems to be the creation of holes of all shapes and sizes.
- Is your hole fear? You felt abandoned and everything you do revolves around trying to feel secure again?
- Are feelings of inadequacy your hole? You tried to please both warring parents, but it never worked. Now you attempt to fill your hole of “failure” by proving you’re adequate with overachievement.
- Perhaps pain/trauma has dug your hole. Yours is extra deep because abuse caused you to see things children should never see or experience things kids should never experience. Consequently, an addiction to drugs, shopping, sex, people-pleasing, alcohol, workaholism, or hobbies is your method of trying to fill it.
How do we fill the hole in a healthy way?
There are a variety of holes, but one common truth about them. Without God, the hole never gets filled. You can’t do enough, experience enough, or medicate enough to fill your hole. Only God can produce joy from despair, replace pain with peace, and saturate unforgiveness with grace.
But we must take our hole to God. Imagine shoveling dirt into a hole day after day, but the hole never fills. That is what many adult children of divorce are doing emotionally. We try and try, but exhaustion wins out and we succumb to various temptations, addictions, crankiness, or desperate acts.
The great news is Jesus says, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.”1 Basically Jesus is saying, “Let me fill that life-draining hole for you.” The question is, will you give Jesus the shovel?
Additionally, talking with a trained church leader, Christian counselor, or psychologist can help. They offer an objective view and skills that can help you fill your hole and open the door to the abundant life Jesus offers.
1Matthew 11:28 [NLT]